Tim Benz: Who do you hate more? Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell?
So, it’s come to this.
As recently as July, the Steelers fan base was proud to boast two of the top five players on the NFL Network’s “Top 100” list.
Running back Le’Veon Bell was No. 5. The big-chested wide receiver formerly known as Antonio Brown was No. 2. Their jerseys were flying off the racks. And even though the Steelers kept falling short of the Super Bowl, eh, they had all that talent. So, there was hope.
However, in the nine months since then, Bell refused to sign a $14.54 million franchise tag. Then on social media, he made himself a victim in the process, at times mocked the team’s shortcomings and openly flirted with division rivals to acquire him.
Brown threw temper tantrums on the sideline, is accused of throwing furniture off his patio, drove 100 mph down McKnight Road, ran wrong routes, skipped meetings, threatened one reporter, accused a second of racism, had a meltdown during the last week of the season, went AWOL until game day of a potential play-in game and blamed it all on the coach, the quarterback, the owner and the general manager.
Aside from that, they’ve been wonderful.
Now, a significant portion of the Steelers fanbase can’t wait to see both of them leave town. It’s not because of a drop in their talent. It’s because of their attitudes and actions.
They’ll likely get their wish. The Steelers have allowed Bell to become an unrestricted free agent. He’s gone. Brown wants a trade. The Steelers will probably get him one. So angry Steelers fans will probably get their wish. Which is a wish, they didn’t want to wish. Few in Pittsburgh want those two talents to leave. Yet, many want the two people gone as fast as possible because they feel dirty at the notion of rooting for them at this point.
Count me among that group. I’m so turned off by Brown and Bell that I’d rather see the Steelers lose without them than reconcile trying to root for them after what transpired in 2018.
It’s gotten to this point: “The DVE Morning Show” — on the Steelers’ flagship station, mind you — had a road-trip show in Florida on Friday. The crew spontaneously posed a question to an on-site studio audience. It was, “Who do you hate more? Brown or Bell?”
The vote was almost entirely against Brown. I thought the voting would be closer, but that’s how I’d lean as well.
Bell has been a jerk. He has flaunted wealth by crying poor. He has compared himself to Martin Luther King, Jr. in the wake of going to strip clubs and posing on jet skis. He has gotten himself suspended and cited for driving under the influence of marijuana.
Bell — and his snake of an agent, Adisa Bakari — backtracked as to what his intentions were going to be after he was tagged July 17. But at least when he was high on McKnight Road, he wasn’t attempting to break the sound barrier. Even in his greed, at least Bell’s initial goal was to work out a long-term deal to stay here. He didn’t sabotage his existence in the city in his hope to extricate himself from it, as Brown has done for the past few months, in the most public and despicable of ways.
Also, Bell — even in the depths of his social media activity — didn’t “like” posts implying the quarterback was guilty of rape and attack the coach at every opportunity.
To that end, I still like Bell bett … let me rephrase. I hate Bell less.
What do you think? Vote below.